8 tips for a family portrait session that you’ll actually enjoy!

family portrait session tips

When it comes time to book your family portrait session, do you start to feel a little nervous? Do you worry that your kids will misbehave? That they won't smile or co-operate? Do you worry about what to wear for the session? Well fear not, I have created a list of family portrait session tips to help you prepare and make sure that you actually enjoy yourself!

Tip 1: Choose your clothing carefully

Have your clothing chosen way in advance and make sure that your outfit choices are comfortable and attractive.  What do your dream family photos look like? If they are soft and elegant?  Chose neutral colors with soft, flowing fabrics. Remember to take into consideration the location of your shoot. If it is on a beach, then choose clothing that is suitable for sitting on sand, strolling in the surf etc. Bring a spare set of clothing for young children, as accidents with food/drinks on the way to the shoot do happen. Having a second outfit for kids that fits in with your colour scheme is a great idea too in case young children choose to run into the sea at the start of the shoot.

Tip 2: Be well rested and well fed

Be certain not to schedule your photo session around your child’s nap or bedtime.  The best time for lighting is the one hour before sunset and after sunrise.  If this is a bad time for your children consider having an at-home lifestyle shoot instead as they can be scheduled for anytime during the day.  Don’t show up to a photo shoot on an empty stomach.  Be sure to give kids a healthy snack before the photo shoot as shoots can run over time.

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Tip 3: Don't teach your kids to say "cheese"

Please, parents… leave the “cheese” at home. So many times I have found parents who stand behind the photographer and scream, “Say cheese!”  Yelling and demanding young children to look at the camera to smile will only stress your children out (not to mention the photographer) and will result in strained, unnatural and often unflattering photographs.  Step back, and allow the photographer to naturally interact and talk with your children.  This will result in natural, gorgeous smiles.

family portrait tips

Tip 4: Parents, stay calm and let your kids be kids

Children are unpredictable, especially kids under the age of five. They are little. Make it fun and try to go with the flow. Expecting them to sit still and smile at the camera on command can stress you out and they will feel it. Try to relax and allow your photographer to capture your family connections and the personalities of the kids as they are now. Not a forced fake version of them. I promise you that (even if you don’t appreciate it now), photos of those moments when they are “misbehaving” or expressing their emotions will be priceless mementos in just a few short years.


Tip 5: Make this session about fun and your family's connection

Talk to your kids about how the photographer likes to be silly and get natural smiles and laughter. No stiff poses and “smiling for the camera”. Think of some activities and games that you like to play together that could be incorporated into the session. Does dad enjoy throwing the kids up in the air and making them laugh? Do you like to tickle each other or blow raspberries? Do things that are fun and you’ll end up with great, natural photos of candid laughter and joy.


Tip 6: Include a favourite toy that could be featured in your shootI

It not only helps to get your children to relax but it can also make a wonderful keepsake to look back on their favourite toy.


Tip 6: Remember that eyes follow the camera

It’s tempting to try to grab a couple of quick phone shots for Instagram or Facebook when the kids are adorably posed. Don’t do it. The minute you pull out your phone, you’ll distract your child. Instead of looking directly at the photographer, they’ll be looking at you. Get snapshots before or after your professional session.

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Tip 7: Get into at least one photo with your family

Be honest with yourself. How many photos do you have of YOU with the kids? As women we can be over critical of our appearance, feeling like we are not the right weight, or that we look tired etc.  But the truth of the matter is, we need to be in pictures with our kids because these are images our children will look back at in the future. If you don’t exist in photos, how will you be remembered?

family portrait tips

 Tip 8: Don't promise your kids anything

I think it’s no secret. Kids are impatient. Promising your kids toys or lollies during a photo session will make them want that promise more than EVER making them impatient and cranky. A promise will make their thoughts focus on something other than the photo session which will make your photos look difficult and awkward. “Smile to the camera and I’ll give you they did what you asked and you still didn’t give them a biscuit. Instead, prepare your kids by talking to them and SURPRISE them at the end of your session (without saying anything about it prior) with a trip to the ice cream place on the way back home because their were such a big kid about the whole experience. They will love you forever.


Bonus tip: Don't forget to get a photo with just your partner

When was the last time that you had your photo taken with your partner and no kids? A selfie doesn't count! Many couples admit that they haven't had a photo taken of just the two of them since their wedding day. It only takes two minutes at the end of the shoot to take some photos of you both. Cherish the love you two have and cherish the special moments you create together with beautiful portraits of your both.

family portrait tips

I hope you enjoyed these family portrait tips. If you would like to book your own family portrait session, please get in touch.

TipsTara WardComment